Monday, March 16, 2009

Now, A Simple Blood Test To Diagnose Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's Awareness Stamp - US Postal Service_*

* Alzheimer's Awareness Stamp - US Postal Service

This Test Can Replace More Costly And Less Reliable Diagnosis Techniques

Over nine months ago, while going through the recent advances made in early diagnosis and intervention techniques for Alzheimer's it was heartening to note the new and creative solutions being developed (a nasal spray that reverses some form of mild cognitive impairment was one such, read here). A recent research has reported a new breakthrough in early diagnosis of Alzheimer's - a simple blood test. A blood test is all that it will take to determine whether the condition is setting in, or even whether somebody is a potential candidate.

image by doortenj, sxc.hu

In an interesting study conducted on 118 adults (the press release on this study appears here), a high positive correlation was found between two antibodies - amyloid-beta and RAGE - whose concentration increases directly with the severity of dementia. They both serve as an advance party that warns of what is to come.

image by smicko, sxc.hu


While RAGE is present at all times in our body, and its levels decline during maturity in normal aging, this protein is found to suddenly surge and throw its weight around in several pathological states, including diabetic nephropathy and inflammation of the vessel walls, besides Alzheimer's. The amyloid-beta is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma under the veil - whence it comes, and what or who produces it in the body, are factors still unknown. Independently, they are neutral folks, very genial, going about their own ways so affably. But the moment they bond together, all hell breaks loose across the blood-brain neighborhood. What brings them together; is it a chance meeting, or does Somebody Play Dice to introduce the two, nobody knows, yet. Hopefully shouldn't be much longer before we figure it out.


image by drx, sxc.hu

According to the research team, after collecting the blood sample, it presently takes three to four days to come out with the outcome - Alzheimer Positive or Alzheimer Negative. While they are working to reduce the processing period to one single day, the test is still considered more economical and less cumbersome - just a pinprick on the forefinger - than the functional MRI or PET scan that people have to undergo nowadays which try to detect brain plaque formation before it is too late.

image by chrissi, sxc.hu

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